Cuban Missile Crisis Swinging Sixties
Background and build up • The Cuban Missile Crisis is the closest that the world came during the Cold War to a full blown nuclear holocaust. • Cuba was itself smarting from the earlier invasion attempt from the US and wanted security against further threats. • Fidel Castro knew that any secretive operations against his country would likely fail, but he also knew that if the US did decide to mount a public, full scale attack that the Cuban military stood very little chance.
Background and build up • The USSR were keen to help Cuba for a number of reasons. Firstly Cuba was by far the closest communist country to the US. Secondly, a few months earlier, the US had placed nuclear capable missiles in Turkey, a capitalist nation extremely close to the USSR. • The US had always dominated in its nuclear technology. Both the Soviets and the Americans knew this. By placing nuclear warheads in Turkey (as well as in Britain and Italy) the US was making it clear that it was capable of launching a full scale nuclear attack far more effectively than the Soviets. • In response to these things, the USSR and Cuba made the decision to place nuclear capable missiles in Cuba, creating something of a crisis for the US.
Krushchev’s Cuba? • In July 1962 President Khrushchev (far right with Castro) of the USSR sent well over 60 Soviet ships and submarines to Cuba with the goal of setting up medium range ballistic missiles (with a range of 2000kms) capable of striking the US mainland very quickly. • The first that US intelligence heard about this move was when the director of the CIA John McCone was on his honeymoon in Paris. French Intelligence informed him about the planned missile placements. When McCone warned the government, they concluded that the Soviets would never have the gumption to try such a thing. • In the meantime, the Soviet government was assuring President Kennedy that they were intending to do no such thing, and that they weren’t interested in giving nuclear capable technology to Cuba.
Can you identify the two figures? What is the cartoonist trying to portray?
Moscow v Washington • Finally 14th October 1962 (months after the initial warnings) a U2 spy plane mission was able to confirm that there were missile sites well on the way to being completed in Cuba. • Initially, this was kept secret, until on the 22nd October Kennedy made a public televised address informing the rest of the world that nuclear installations had been found in Cuba. • He warned that any nuclear attack by Cuba would be responded to with a clear and decisive attack on Moscow. • Kennedy also put in place a naval quarantine to stop any further movement of military equipment between the USSR and Cuba.
Who are the ‘reds’? What is a blockade? What are ‘arms’?
Decision time • Kennedy was now facing some tough choices. • 1. He could declare all out war on the USSR. • 2. He could once again invade Cuba in a full scale attack and try to destroy the nuclear equipment. • 3.However, in a move that has been hailed by many as the most brilliant of his presidency, Kennedy engaged Khrushchev in diplomatic talks.
Results • Khrushchev agreed to remove the missiles if the Kennedy would agree not to invade Cuba, and remove their missiles from Turkey. • Kennedy agreed to both, but convinced Khrushchev not to make the Turkey decision public, a move which likely cost Khrushchev his presidency. • After this crisis Kennedy was upheld as a hero by Americans, and Khrushchev was seen as weak by many Soviets.